Speaking at a meeting with the Congressional Friends of Ireland, on Capitol Hill in Washington later this morning Gerry Adams TD will commend all of those Irish Americans and others in the USA and Canada who advocate on behalf of Irish Unity.
The Sinn Féin leader will brief the Congressional leaders on the outcome of the recent Assembly election; the negotiations currently taking place and the threat posed by Brexit. Gerry Adams TD and Mary Lou McDonald TD will meet the Congressional group at 10 am Washington time.
Gerry Adams said:
“Currently the two governments and the political parties in the North are engaged in talks following the Assembly election.
“The election result has transformed the political landscape. The unionist majority in the Assembly has ended. There is also have for the first timer the potential for a progressive political consensus among the majority of MLAs and parties. Sinn Fein’s focus is on reaching agreement on the restoration of the political institutions. But it cannot be on the same basis as before. That is why the current talks are for us about the implementation of agreements previously made.
“It has been suggested that British Direct Rule could be imposed if there is no agreement. This would be an enormous act of bad faith by London and a reversal of the joint position set out by the two governments in 2006.
“In April 2006 the British and Irish governments in a joint statement agreed that the restoration of the political institutions would see the British government’s power to suspend the Assembly lapse for good.
“They also agreed, if the Executive was not formed, to begin detailed work on British-Irish partnership arrangements to ensure that the Good Friday Agreement is actively developed across its structures and functions. At that time the British government committed to introducing emergency legislation to facilitate this.
“A year later the DUP, led by Ian Paisley, joined with Sinn Féin to form an Executive. This arrangement lasted for almost ten years. While the governments have not developed the British Irish partnership arrangements envisaged if the Executive was not formed at that time, the British governments power to suspend the Assembly is gone. Of course this legislation could be reintroduced at any time but this would be a very serious step which the Irish Government would be compelled to oppose.
“Let me be very clear Sinn Féin is totally committed to the re-establishment of the political institutions. But these must be based on good governance and on the terms which underpinned the Good Friday Agreement and other agreements.
“The British government is not committed to these principles. In fact, its current position is in opposition to some of these, particularly on the issue of rights. I am also concerned that the Irish government is not assertive enough – as a co-equal guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement.
“So, getting the institutions in place will be a challenge given the DUPs stated position on an Irish Language Act, a Bill of Rights and other fundamental requirements, and the British government’s obstructive approach to legacy issues and other matters.
“The DUP position on Brexit is also entirely wrong. The consequences of Brexit represents the biggest threat at this time to the wellbeing of the people of the island of Ireland. I presented the Congressional leaders with Sinn Féin’s proposal ‘The Case for the North to achieve Designated Special Status within the EU.’ Special status for the North is now supported by Fianna Fáil and Labour in the Oireachtas and by the majority of parties and MLAs in the Assembly. I asked the Congressional leaders to support this position.”